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Inside Story
Is US challenging Beijing's ambitions?
US president looks east to re-establish America as a Pacific nation but has his Asian tour rubbed China the wrong way?
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2011 09:23

Barack Obama, president of United states, has wrapped up his nine-day tour of Asia looking to reassert American influence in the region. And not surprisingly, perhaps China - the rising Asian power, is not happy about it.

On Saturday, Obama met Hu Jintao, China's president, on the sidelines of an East Asian summit held in the Indonesian island of Bali. They reportedly talked about the Chinese currency and economic issues along with other US interests in the South China sea.

Obama started his tour last week in Hawaii where he announced the trans-Pacific partnership - a free trade area that will unite nine nations. China was welcomed to join but it would have to deliver economic reforms which it may at this stage find unpallatable.

And then Obama moved to Australia where he announced the deployment of 2,500 troops to Darwin, not too far from the South China sea.

While President Obama was in Australia, his secretary of state Hillary Clinton was in Manila, warning China without naming it, 'not to intimidate its neighbours'.

China is involved in a territorial dispute over the South China sea, where Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Brunei, all have oceanic claims.

Although China wants to discuss its territorial disputes with each country individually but on his last leg in Bali, President Obama said he wanted to deal with the disputed South China seas at the East Asia summit with 18 nations including China around the table - it is a move that would weaken China's negotiating position.   

Stepping on Beijing's toes, can the US continue to form alliances and seek cooperation while Beijing is bristling with irritation?

Inside Story, with presenter Hazim Sika discusses with guests Jonathan Holslag, head of research at Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies; Scott Lucas, professor of American Studies at University of Birmingham and editor of EA Worldview; and Simon Shen, associate professor of International Relations at Hong Kong Institute of Education and Chinese University of Hong Kong.

"I want to emphasise that the Asia-Pacific region is absolutely critical to America's economic growth. We consider it a top priority and we consider it a top priority because we are not going to be able to put our folks back to work and grow our economy and expand opportunity unless the Asia-Pacific region is also successful."

Barack Obama, president of United States




Source:
Al Jazeera
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